How to develop a personal style
By Ava Green, Features Contributor
It is easy to overlook fashion and the way that people present themselves — I can see why one may be looked at as shallow when they care about their physical appearance, but I have to disagree. Maintaining one’s looks is a great form of self-care, and defining your style is one of the most important communication tactics we can use as humans. Style has the capability of reflecting your personality and creativity, and it is actually quite easy to do.
The first thing to do is work with what you’ve got. Take a moment to look at your clothes and acknowledge which pieces bring you joy when you wear them. Maybe it is a pair of sneakers that have your favorite color on them or a coat that flatters you. Regardless, wearing what makes you feel good is always your best bet. Once you have your articles of clothing that you love all picked out, try to see what they have in common and build from that. For example: consider colors, silhouettes or patterns. Another trick is to try to look for trends in your closet; a multitude of bootcut jeans probably means that skinny jeans aren't your thing. Or you might notice that all of your shirts are neutral colors because bright colors don’t suit you. When you are able to see what you have to work with, you can elevate it. If you have a collection of graphic tees, find layers to add under them, a simple pair of pants and some accessories, and you have a casual but eye-catching outfit. Using your own clothes for inspiration gives you a foundation to start with that you know you are comfortable in.
Another key is finding your signature piece. Harry Styles has his pearls; James Dean had his leather jacket; even Guy Fieri has his iconic sunglasses and his fiery button-down shirts. It may take some trial and error figuring out what your staple item is, so it's totally okay to change it every once and a while. Personal style is constantly developing. Personally, I decided on my first day of my senior year that winged eyeliner was going to be my thing and it has stuck (for the most part). My friend almost exclusively wears shades of blue. She claims it's coincidental, but who knows, maybe it has been a ploy for us to all subconsciously associate her with the color blue this entire time. The signature may not always be that obvious though. People may not even notice the consistency in your fashion, but you will. Fashion is for everyone, but style should be self-serving — it should be for you and your own satisfaction. So, take your favorite accessory or hairstyle and wear it as much as you want. Remember: you aren’t re-wearing, you are establishing your brand, and that’s pretty cool if you ask me!
An unavoidable step to refining your style is experimenting with new types of clothes to see what trends you were incorrectly avoiding all along. Definitely start by creating outfits out of pieces you already have to avoid shopping ‘til you drop. So next time you have nothing to do, why not throw your own fashion show in your room? By doing this, you can see which patterns complement each other and which ones clash, and you can finally see if you pull off a look that is out of your comfort zone. Plus, who doesn’t want to have a Naomi Campbell moment, even if your stage is your bedroom and not New York Fashion Week? This can either give you great ideas for future outfits or it can show you what you should avoid incorporating into your wardrobe. Both of these possibilities create equally useful conclusions, so don't fret if your practice outfits are less than stunning!
The devil is in the details. The smallest elements can elevate your outfits, so why not incorporate aspects of yourself into these details? You can add your own flare by finding unique jewelry, bags or hats. Some of the coolest accessories come from thrift stores. Thrift stores are everywhere, as well as being sustainable and affordable; you can also donate clothing items that may not exactly fit your style anymore to thrift stores. Another easy way to personalize an outfit is adding bursts of your favorite color, like pink socks or a green headband. It is really fun to add a little bit of color to an outfit, especially if you can get them to coordinate. Doing this can make it look like you have put more effort into your outfit than you really have. Or, you could always take the personalization seriously and use my method of putting my name or initials on everything I own; for example, my jewelry, room decor and even my sneakers that I customized to have my name on them. People will either take it as a beautiful form of self expression or a self-absorbed display of narcissism. Either way, at least you will never forget what your name is!
The ever-changing cycles of trends in the fashion industry can make it difficult to develop a personal style. But trends change — your style lasts and grows with you. It is something that I believe to be a worthy cause to invest your time into. Developing a personal style is about finding who you are and being willing to express it. G. Bruce Boyer said, “Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.” There’s no time like the present to start being yourself on purpose by customizing your wardrobe to reflect who you are.